Atheism is a metaphysical stance with no obvious ethical entailments. “There is no God and therefore I should be compassionate” is a syllogism with evident missing parts. If you don’t believe in a loving God who wants us also to be loving, any compassion you demonstrate doesn’t derive from your not believing something, but from your believing something about what human beings owe to one another. (I have known compassionate atheists, but their compassion derived from those positive beliefs that they would have shared with some but not all of their fellow atheists.) So when Jacoby writes, “We need to demonstrate that atheism is rooted in empathy as well as intellect,” this strikes me as a nonsensical statement. How can atheism be “rooted in empathy”? “I empathize with others and therefore I don’t believe that God exists”?Read it all. Jacobs does a very effective job of pointing out the gaps and inconsistencies in much of the modern atheist argument.
Friday, January 11, 2013
Atheism and the absence of meaning
Alan Jacobs explores that topic in this review of a recent article by Susan Jacoby: What Does Atheism Do For Atheists? As Jacobs writes: